Gluten-Free Queso with Pickled Jalapenos

A fun thing about writing a food blog based upon a minimalist-pantry concept is that your friends and family start challenging you to make their favorite foods with just the ingredients you have in your kitchen.

To date, I have yet to fail these challenges, but I don’t want to get overly-confident :) My boyfriend’s sister, who presently lives in Taiwan and whom I miss dearly, challenged me to make a queso dip. Too easy, girl. Too easy.

The main obstacle, of course, is that the pantry doesn’t contain flour, which is usually used to make a roux that binds the liquid cheese dip together. However, the pantry does contain corn starch—a conveniently gluten-free alternative for those avoiding gluten.

This queso dip starts with a quick corn starch roux and some taco-evoking spices. The cheese gets whisked in, and you’re done. Now all you have to do is get the party started.

This recipe is adapted from

Did you make this recipe? Be sure to tag us on instagram @theprotopantry and use the #protopantry hashtag. Happy cooking!

Everything on is made using our 50-ingredient minimalist pantry list. We have recipes from all over the world and for most dietary needs—explore here.

Gluten-Free Queso with Pickled Jalapenos Recipe

This gluten-free queso dip is the ultimate gooey liquid party cheese.

Makes: 6 servings

Gluten-Free Queso with Pickled Jalapenos

Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 cup milk (we used regular, 2% milk, but any unsweetened and unflavored milk will do)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, chopped, for mixing in or topping

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the corn starch to the butter, and stir until smooth and very thick, about two minutes.
  3. Slowly add the milk, a splash at a time, stirring each time until smooth and heated through.
  4. Once all the milk is incorporated, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for three-four minutes, until the mixture is quite thick.
  5. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese, spices, seasonings, and jalapenos and stir vigorously until the mixture is thick and smooth. Serve warm.

Notes and Nutrition Information

  • Serve your queso fresh. If it’s going to be sitting out at a party, I highly recommend setting it over a heat source of some kind or in a mini slow-cooker. This is for both quality and food-safety reasons.

  • DO NOT use pre-shredded or grated cheese for this particular recipe. I know, I know. The problem is that it’s often coated with anti-caking agents such as potato starch, which can prevent the cheese from melting smoothly.

  • Feel free to customize your queso! Add canned diced tomatoes, cooked bacon, or whatever else you like around the time you add your jalapenos.

  • This queso is also a great mac-and-cheese sauce, nacho-topper, and burrito-filler. It’s quite thick, so reduce the corn starch by a teaspoon or two if you prefer a thinner result.

  • For a homemade baked tortilla chips recipe, check out these chilaquiles.

  • One sixth of the recipe as written contains approximately 145 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 256 milligrams of sodium.